by Stephen Dafoe
The decision of Teck Resources Ltd. to withdraw its application for the $20 billion Frontier mine project comes with a loss of a potential of 7,000 construction jobs, 2500 operating jobs and $70 billion in tax and royalty revenue.
In a letter to The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, Don Lindsay, President and Chief Executive Officer Teck Resources Limited said the company was disappointed to have arrived at the difficult decision.
“Teck put forward a socially and environmentally responsible project that was industry-leading and had the potential to create significant economic benefits for Canadians,” Lindsay wrote, adding Frontier had unprecedented support from Indigenous communities and was deemed to be in the public interest by a joint federal-provincial review panel.
Lindsay went on to say global capital markets are rapidly changing and investors and customers are increasingly looking for jurisdictions to have a framework in place that reconciles resource development and climate change to produce the cleanest possible products.
“This does not yet exist here today and, unfortunately, the growing debate around this issue has placed Frontier and our company squarely at the nexus of much broader issues that need to be resolved,” Lindsay wrote. “In that context, it is now evident that there is no constructive path forward for the project. Questions about the societal implications of energy development, climate change and Indigenous rights are critically important ones for Canada, its provinces and Indigenous governments to work through.”
The company said it was not shying away from controversy and was prepared to face the opposition of the critics that the resource businesses draw.
“The promise of Canada’s potential will not be realized until governments can reach agreement around how climate policy considerations will be addressed in the context of future responsible energy sector development,” Lindsay wrote. “Without clarity on this critical question, the situation that has faced Frontier will be faced by future projects, and it will be very difficult to attract future investment, either domestic or foreign.”
KENNY BLAMES OTTAWA
Premier Jason Kenny was quick to lay blame in Ottawa’s direction both in terms of regulatory feet dragging and dealing with recent blockades.
“Teck’s decision is disappointing, but in light of the events of the last few weeks, it is not surprising,” Keny said. “It is what happens when governments lack the courage to defend the interests of Canadians in the face of a militant minority.”
Kenny went on to say the timing of the Teck decision was not coincidental as the company has confirmed earlier in the week that the project was economically viable.
“Weeks of federal indecision on the regulatory approval process and inaction in the face of illegal blockades have created more uncertainty for investors looking at Canada, “Kenny said. “Teck’s predicament shows that even when a company spends more than $1 billion over a decade to satisfy every regulatory requirement, a regulatory process that values politics over evidence and the erosion of the rule of law will be fatal to investor confidence.”
Kenny said the factors that lead to the Teck decision will further weaken national unity.
“The Government of Alberta agreed to every request and condition raised by the federal government for approving the Frontier project, including protecting bison and caribou habitat, regulation of oilsands emissions, and securing full Indigenous support,” the Premier said. “The Government of Alberta repeatedly asked what more we could do to smooth the approval process. We did our part, but the federal government’s inability to convey a clear or unified position let us, and Teck, down.”
Kenny said Sunday’s news would “deepen” his government’s resolve to use every tool available to fight for greater control and autonomy for Alberta within Canada. The Premier said that would include reinforcing Alberta’s constitutional right to develop its natural resources, ensuring a sustainable future for Alberta’s oil and gas industries, and restoring Canada’s reputation as a reliable place to do business.
NDP BLAME UCP’s LACK OF CLIMATE POLICY
Official Opposition Leader Rachel Notley, however, laid the blame at the Premier’s doorstep. Notley said her party was “deeply disappointed” to hear of the withdrawal of the Teck Frontier application.
“Let’s face facts – before the election, Jason Kenney began a campaign of division, designed to demonize efforts to take real action on climate change,” Notley said, adding polarization and conflict has accelerated since Kenney was elected Premier. “The heated rhetoric and constant conflict generated by Jason Kenney and the UCP is the primary reason for the withdrawal of Teck’s application. Teck was clear today they’re not retreating from a vocal minority, despite the Premier claiming otherwise.”
Notley said under the NDP’s, Alberta was making clear progress in establishing a “forward-looking framework” where the province was tackling climate change and promoting responsible, sustainable growth in the non-renewable energy sector.
“We worked to unify our economic and environmental efforts, not pit them against each other,” Notley said. “Jason Kenney has acted only to inflame this debate. He intentionally reduced the Teck project to a political football. Now that project has been spiked – and the Premier himself is the one to blame.”
The federal government was scheduled to make a decision on the Teck Frontier project as early as Tuesday of this week.